Following Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Southampton in our last game of 2017, Paul Scholes was very critical of Paul Pogba when working in his role as pundit.
The Frenchman had an unusually awful game and was too often seen strolling around the pitch instead of dictating play the way he usually has done this season.
“Where’s the Paul Pogba we saw at Juventus?” Scholes asked. “He was all over the pitch, he was tackling, he was fighting, he was sprinting to people, he was scoring goals from 25 yards out. (Now) He’s just strolling through the game. I wonder whether he’s training properly, whether he’s looking after himself. He’s looking half the player now.”
Pogba was poor against Southampton but to suggest that he is half the player he was at Juventus is quite a claim. This season, despite missing two months through injury, Pogba has assisted seven goals. Only three players have assisted more, and that’s Leroy Sane (8), David Silva (8) and Kevin De Bruyne (9). All three of those players have had considerable more time on the pitch than Pogba this season though.
Following Pogba’s Man of the Match performance against Everton at Goodison Park, Jose Mourinho returned the criticism on Scholes.
I think the only thing Paul Scholes does is to criticise. I don’t think he comments, I think he criticises, which is a different thing, but not every one of us has to be phenomenal, like he was as a player. He was a phenomenal player, that doesn’t mean that we all have to be phenomenal. Paul (Pogba) tries to do his best all the time. Sometimes he plays very well, sometimes he plays well, and sometimes he does not play so well. It is not Paul’s fault that he made much more money than Paul Scholes. It is not Paul Pogba’s fault, it’s just the way football is.
But I think Scholesy will be in the history like a phenomenal player, not as a pundit. So I prefer to look at him as a phenomenal player who gave so much to the club I am proud to represent and every day I try to do my best.
If Paul one day decides to be a manager, I wish that he can be 25 per cent as successful as myself, because 50 per cent is 12 and a half silverware, 25 per cent is around six. If he is 25 per cent, he will be quite happy.
In my mind, Paul Scholes a phenomenal player, one of the best players I have ever seen playing in midfield and he gives so much to my club, I only can thank him for that, because the prestige of this club is based on people like him, so successful here.
Truth be told, it is unlikely that Scholes is jealous of the money Pogba earns. He doesn’t come across as that sort of person. But Mourinho is right to point out that our legendary midfielder is needlessly critical of our players.
Some suggest that is because he has such high standards because of his time at the club playing Sir Alex Ferguson, surrounded by world-class players. There has to be some truth in that but that doesn’t mean that Mourinho is wrong to suggest that Scholes is keener to criticise than to comment.
Scholes’ pal Wayne Rooney avoided the criticism he deserved in the years since Ferguson’s retirement. When Rooney was widely criticised by fans and other pundits for his performances, Scholes would leap to his defence. This would suggest that Scholes doesn’t always provide unbiased opinion.
It would be interesting to see what Scholes would have said about United over the past few years if Ryan Giggs had been appointed manager, instead of Louis van Gaal or Mourinho.